Always taking knowledge to a higher level
Thirty years of doing endurance sports did not result in a prize, laughs Alexander Mahnke, CEO Insurance at Siemens Financial Services. That made winning the FERMA-CRE Risk Manager of the Year award in 2018 even more special, he says. At the same time, he emphasises that he and his risk management colleagues regard the award as one for the whole team. It recognises their work in creating a completely new and sophisticated approach of tailor-made insurance solutions and internal processes of premium allocations at Siemens.
Like many people who are today leaders in the risk management community, Alexander did not set out on a risk management career – something which will probably change as new people join the profession direct from education. He trained as a lawyer and was being interviewed for a job in the Siemens’ legal department. Somehow his predecessor in risk management took an interest in Alexander’s CV, and he began working at the interface between legal and insurance/risk management.
He found himself fascinated by the risk aspect and the great value that he saw that insurance risk management could provide for the company. It became a personal goal to go more deeply into the subject. He also wanted more people, especially outside the organisation, to appreciate this contribution. “That’s where risk management associations such as GVNW and FERMA play a part,” says Alexander who has been President of GVNW for four years, during which time GVNW was created as a result of the merger of DVS and BfV.
Despite his own training, Alexander doesn’t believe that a legal or even very academic background is essential for success in risk management. “What is most important,” he says, “is that someone is always looking to take his or her knowledge of risk management to a higher level.”
He does believe that risk management is becoming more quantitative, but stresses: “You must not forget the social skills. Building your own networks, especially within the company and making sure that you can convince people with the content of your message, not just your functional responsibilities are essential.”
According to Alexander, the FERMA European Risk Manager 2018 survey, published in November, revealed what is being done well within companies and also parts where risk managers can become better. “This is where FERMA’s rimap programme is so valuable. It provides a good process for people coming into the market, seeking education and certification.”
Not surprisingly, he believes strongly in the value of organisations like GVNW and FERMA for the risk management community. They also allow large, public companies to have a collective voice on issues that matter to them and on political initiatives. For smaller companies, which may only have one person dealing with insurance and risk management, they provide a network for getting to know others and get independent views. “We can answer questions that they may be reluctant to ask their broker or insurer,” he says.
Finally, Alexander invites all the European risk management community to Berlin from 17-20 November for the FERMA Forum 2019 supported by GVNW. It will be a fitting conclusion for the Risk Manager of the Year and President of GVNW.